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Benghazi 24, Cia 8, Clinton 8, Pickering 7, Mullen 7, Us 6, Feinstein 5, David Brooks 5, Libya 5, Washington 4, Usaa 3, U.s. 3, Tripoli 3, Bjorn 3, California 3, Garth 3, The Irs 2, Ansar Al Sharia 2, Bush 2, Irs 2,
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  MSNBC    Meet the Press    News/Business. A moderator  
   interviews a leading public figure. (CC)  

    May 12, 2013
    11:00 - 12:01pm PDT  

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to mobile apps, small business solutions from at&t have the security you need to get you there. call us. we can show you how at&t solutions can help you do what you do... even better. ♪ this sunday, the battle over benghazi. did the white house play with politics with terrorism? or is this a revved up attack machine against the president and hillary clinton? this week, a career diplomat challenges the official line on benghazi in riveting detail. >> i received a call from the prime minister of libya. i think it was the saddest phone call i've ever had in my life. he told me that ambassador stevens had passed away. >> and house republicans aren't about to stop asking questions. is the administration holding back?
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>> the white house has done everything possible to block access to the information that would outline the truth. >> this morning, my exclusive interview with the republican leading the charge, chairman of the house oversight committee, congressman darrell issa of california. then the man who insists that charges of a cover-up are pure fiction. former ambassador thomas pickering who led the independent investigation into the benghazi attack. he joins me. plus, response from democratic senator and chair of the senate intelligence committee dianne feinstein. later our roundtable on the political impact of benghazi and the other news. the immigration fight, the economy as the stock market takes off, and the alarming number of sexual assaults in the military. what should be done? from nbc news in washington, and the world's longest-running television program. this is "meet the press" with david gregory. >> and good sunday morning. the president and his administration under fire now on
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two fronts -- news just this morning in the developing country over the irs targeting of conservative tea party groups. the associated press reporting this sunday that senior irs officials knew of the targeting as early as 2011, contradicting recent public denials by the commissioner. in the growing congressional investigation over the administration's response to the september 11th attacks in benghazi, libya has the white house now on the defensive. that's where we'll start right now with the republican leading the investigation into these matters. the chairman of the house oversight committee, darrell issa. >> obviously this is an important issue to the american people. >> let's get into it then because i want to know where you're going. congressional leaders including yourself are calling on the white house to release more e-mails related to all of the communication and reaction to the benghazi attacks the very next day. what are these e-mails? what's in them, and do you think the white house is holding something back? >> david, there are three distinct areas that haven't been
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answered. first of all, a full understanding of why urgent requests repeatedly for more security before the attacks were denied. we've had statements that it wasn't about money, but at the same time, people are asking for more security. they got less. the british ambassador has two assassination attempts, and yet we keep a facility that was not able to withstand even a few minutes of attack. then those seven hours while the attack was going on. was the response correct? could it have been better? why weren't things at least tried or revved up to be tried? those are important questions. then afterwards, how could you change talking points 12 times from what seems to be relatively right to what seems to be completely wrong? >> why don't i start there because in the immediate aftermath, there's both intelligence and there's internal administration communication, basically saying that a terrorist group appears to be involved. right? ansar al sharia. there's communication about this in the state department but those are removed ultimately for
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the talking points in preparation for members of congress and for susan rice to appeared here and on other sunday morning talk shows. and steve hayes reported about this in "the weekly standard," and writes about some of the changes. the official who changed it at the state department, the weekly standard confirmed was victoria nuland. worried that members of congress would use the points to criticize the state department for not paying attention to agency warnings about security in benghazi. in an attempt to address those concern, cia officials cut all references to ansar al sharia and made minor tweaks. but in a follow-up e-mail, new land wrote that the problem remain that her superiors, he she didn't say which ones were unhappy. the changes she wrote did not resolve all my issues. you suggest she's playing politics with the aftermath of all of this. but chairman, didn't the cia and the intelligence community have the final word on what the accurate talking points would be? >> no. not at all. if you keep pushing back, you get a first report from the cia, that's their report. then you push back.
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you get a little different. you push back, you get a little different. that's manipulating the cia to get the truth. >> the cia can't stand up for itself and get the facts, saying, these are the facts? >> the fact is, there was a fact witness, his name was ambassador stevens. he said greg, we're under attack to his number two. that was the definitive statement from the ambassador on the ground before he was murdered. you have a fact witness. and you follow that up with fact witness after fact witness. so to blame the cia is a convenient truth. the real truth is, the people who were there in tripoli and in benghazi knew this was a terrorist attack from the get-go. that's been said under oath. and that's the reason that we need to know more about how nin ning -- things got changed. >> chairman, my reporting of the immediate aftermath of this talking to administration officials is that ci a director david petraeus made it clear when he briefed top officials that there was a spontaneous element to this, that it was not
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completely known that this was a terrorist attack right away. you don't give any credence to the notion that there was some fog of war, that there were conflicting circumstances about what went on here? >> david petraeus said what the administration wanted him to say is the indication. ambassador pickering heard what the administration wanted to hear. the only under oath people i know about who have said what happened on the ground that day was, in fact, before our committee just on wednesday, and more importantly, you know, when "face the nation" had susan rice saying one thing and the president of libya saying just the opposite, that should have been a wake-up call, a real wake-up call, that there was something wrong, because we were effectively calling the president of libya either incompetent or a liar. either way, diplomatically, we went down the wrong road. you reconcile with the government that is hosting you
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before you go on national television and make that kind of claim. >> what is the big picture here? you're saying that administration officials or these political advisors to the president, or these non-political appointees bullied the cia into saying what the -- the political advisers in the white house wanted to say? is that your charge? >> david, we're not making charges. >> you just said. the cia had to back down from they originally said and the white house had to -- those are serious charges. >> those talking points are not the starting talking points, they're the ending talking points. so we're not reaching every conclusion. we're not accusing who changed that. the fact is, we want the facts. we're entitled to the facts. the american people were effectively lied to for a period of about a month. that's important to get right. >> just want to be clear what you believe the lie was. >> this was a terrorist attack from the get-go. the attack succeeded very quickly. in no small part because the
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consulate or the diplomatic facility in benghazi was denied the kind of support it needed or, quite frankly, the decision to leave, which might have been just as good. either way, they were, in fact, covering up an easy attack that succeeded that was about -- was from the get-go really about a terrorist attack. it was never about a video. so when we look at what we know, the question is, how do we prevent a facility from being underprotected? how do we respond better if we have seven hours or more of an attack, and how do we get the truth out? there's three sections, all of which the american people are entitled to, and so far, jay carney has said a lot of things that aren't believable even to you and the rest of the press. we've had testimony by people under oath that i think are pretty believable, and i know they're accountable for what they say. >> who else do you want to hear from in the days and the weeks ahead? >> well, on monday i'll be
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sending ambassador pickering a request for deposition. we're going to want to go through at length how the arb reached its conclusions, who it interviewed and why we believe there are -- >> the accountability review board. >> right. i mean, ultimately if that got it right, then we can put this to a rest. we believe it was insufficient. we believe that it's likely that they did not interview all the people. we have one witness who said i wanted to be interviewed and i wasn't. and, you yo, know, one of the questions that came out of our hearing, gregory hicks, the act being ambassador has not been allowed to look at the classified arb report even though he is the foremost authority on at least what was happening in tripoli and what the communication was. >> we'll talk to him to get some of his response. i want to have you respond to something else. former president bush gave an interview this week in which he talked about e-mail in the executive branch particularly his own. i want to play that for you and then ask you about it. >> we learned that i didn't e-mail anybody when i was president.
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i -- i was fearful of congressional intrusion into my e-mails. so -- which is kind of sad, really, because a lot of history is lost when presidents are nervous about their personal papers being subpoenaed. >> that was a couple of weeks ago. congressional intrusion was his fear. now, what we're talking about with regard to benghazi does not involve a president's e-mail, but it involves e-mails in what's called the interagency process, and what your critics have asked is, are you reading into something that is not there? discussions about what happened, about what the various inputs of information are? are you overreading? >> well, we're obviously having a debate in federal court because of "fast and furious" in which the executive branch lied to congress and then refuses to deliver the in-agency debate about how you perpetrate and
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continued that lie for months. we have a basic difference of opinion with the executive branch. not a republican, not a democratic, but a basic difference. if you lie, deceive or cover-up and that's discovered, then those papers behind the scenes become very appropriate to be seen by the coequal branch. i'm one of those people that very strongly supports that the deliberative process in the ordinary course is not something we should be asking for. but when the wheels come off, when, in fact, people make a decision to give us something that's false and it's shown to be false and then particularly if there's false statements to congress, of course we have an obligation to look at it and that does appropriately include those e-mails, and in this case, you've got 12 changes. ambassador pickering has every right and obligation to look at every one of them, and we have every obligation to look over his shoulder and see what was independent, what was given.
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now, ambassador pickering has said he's been given all of the documents and access to all of the people. well, we haven't and we're the coequal branch. he was simply acting as an appointee of the secretary. >> what did secretary of state hillary clinton fail to disclose or fail to do that makes her a target for you? >> hillary clinton's not a target. president obama's not a target. the target is, how did we fail three different ways? fail to heed the warnings of an impending attack, fail to respond properly during the attack. at least we certainly could have done better, and i think everyone knows that, and then fail to get the truth to the american people in a timely fashion. >> you don't hold the president and the secretary of state responsible for those failings? >> it's their administration, but we have to find out how the did we not get it right before the attack? how did we not get it better during the attack? and how did we not get the truth after?
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if they're involved in it, of course they should be held responsible. but one of the problems with this arb report is, it doesn't seem to find anybody at the high level of state department or anyone else to have failed. and i'm going to tell you something -- certainly undersecretary kennedy who has not been held accountable, three of his people have been held supposedly accountable, but he was getting the facts on a daily basis. and one of the questions is, isn't this career professional of 34 years or more, isn't there some accountability? we certainly think that it needs to be asked. >> you've got republicans talking about this being watergate. one republican raising the specter of impeachment. conservative groups raising money off of the benghazi story. are you hurting your own credibility and your own fact-finding mission by politically overreaching? >> i was, then i would be. but i'm not. you know, i investigated the mineral management service and made strong recommendations to the bush administration that it needed real change, because it was a dysfunctional agency.
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and i'm sad that i didn't stay on top of it more tenaciously because ultimately, the gulf of mexico was filled with oil because that agency wasn't doing enough of its job of making sure the oil companies did their job. so i can never again look at something where four men died and i believe needlessly and then say, well, i'm going to just say they've taken care of it, it won't happen again. no. congress has an obligation to say, what did you do to make sure it doesn't happen again? and charlene lamb and other low ranking people being reassigned to other jobs, that's not going to prevent these three separate mistakes from happening again. >> the issue of security that you talk about, how do we prevent this from happening again? the reality, chairman, as you know, it's happened throughout our recent history. look at attacks on diplomatic compounds or facilities or u.s. interests over the years. >> you know, gregory hicks, in fact, testified to what happened in bahrain under his watch. how in fact they prepared for a possible attack and they survived the attack even though
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they will lost a few cars. >> look at these attacks on u.s. interests spanning republican and democratic administrations including president bush's administration. why is there not more of an effort to beef up security after these attacks happen? and even, you know, even before this happened in benbenghazi? and isn't it congress' job to beef up the money? >> first of all, money is spent by the secretary of state and her people. we appropriated the money. have i spent over 12 years both on the intelligence committee and on the foreign affairs committee and now on the oversight committee. i visited countless embassies and consulates. i've seen both behind the scenes on the intelligence committee and the overt actions of what we do. and we do a great deal. and we do it well. but in areas of high risk, in areas like north africa and for that matter, sub-saharan africa, we're not really prepared for the kind of attacks we're getting. we haven't been since the two bombings of our embassies and then the cole.
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so can we do better? yes. must we do better? yes. but when you have clear signs and you have career professionals asking for more security and they're second-guessed for reasons of apparently wanting a norm manization, not for financial reez asons, an appeare of normal, that has to be asked. why wouldn't you let the career professionals have their way when they say here's a risk, they tried to kill the ambassador, the british ambassador twice. they blew up the wall at it very facility in benghazi two separate times, one they actually breached it, and yet security was cut, not increased. that's not about the broad picture. it's about this example of what went wrong. >> do you need a select committee on something like this? i mean, like bsh -- your investigation sufficient here? >> let's not blow things out of proportion. this is a failure, it needs to be investigated. our committee can investigate. now, ambassador pickering, his people and he refused to come before our committee. >> that is not true. >> we'll get to ambassador pickering.
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>> we have it in writing and white house correspondence. it may not have been his decision, the ambassador's decision, but it was the white house decision. that has been reversed. we're inviting him on monday along with admiral mullen to go through with his papers a private deposition so we can get the facts in a nonpartisan way. we'll have republicans and democrats -- >> ambassador, you're willing to appear? you just jumped in here. >> of course. i've said the day before the hearings, i was willing to appear to come to the very hearings that he excluded me from. the white house -- >> please don't tell me i excluded you. >> the majority -- we were told the majority said i was not welcome at that hearing. i could come at some other time. >> well, as the ambassador just said, the day before the hearing, if the white house said we'd like to have him, there's a procedure. he could have been the democratic witness. and we would have allowed him. the democrats requested no witness. the fact is, we don't want to have some sort of a stage show. we had fact witnesses.
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they testified. we have the ambassador and admiral mullen who conducted and oversaw the arb. we've invited them on monday. we'll go through not in front of the public but in a nonpartisan way questions and answers and then obviously, a hearing to follow at an appropriate time. i'm delighted to have a long-serving career diplomat willing to come before us. i don't think it was his decision to say no. but we were told no until just before the hearing. >> let me do this. chairman, stick around for a minute. i want to ask you about this irs story. ambassador pickering, you led this investigation along with admiral mullen. and the criticism about this investigation is, it didn't go far enough. you didn't specifically interview secretary of state clinton. you didn't probe into what she did or did not do in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. you focused on lower-level officials and didn't sufficiently address the very point the chairman brings up, which is, why wasn't there
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sufficient address to the fact that there was a deteriorating security situation if benghazi? >> let me say that i hope the chairman has read our report. our report has 29 recommendations. the bulk of them concern the insufficiency of the state department's preparation of that post to deal with the security challenges. i don't think that there is any other explanation. and i can't believe that in fact, he still sits here and makes those charges. the second issue he raised was the seven hours. we looked into this extensively with the military. admiral mullen. >> talking about the night of the attack? >> the night of the attack in benghazi. and admiral mullen and i and all the other members of the board concluded, after the testimony in which we interviewed many people, that there was no way that any military activity could have been put in place to deal with that will particular question. >> chairman of the joint chiefs and others have said nobody could have gotten there in time.
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>> dempsey said so, admiral mullen said so. >> there was no contingency planning of a chaotic situation in north africa? >> there was planning and that contingency planning helped. contingency planning involved the annex coming to help the people who were under attack at the mission, and it was fairly clear that that particular set of activities helped a great deal. we may have had more people killed if that hadn't happened. we've been told that the only witnesses that are of any value are people in tripoli. we interviewed everybody still alive on the ground who was at the u.s. mission that night. >> and that -- ambassador, that's an important point. we've been denied even the names of those individuals. the fact is, our committee wanted to speak to the individuals from benghazi. they were neither encouraged nor produced nor even their names made available to us. look, two of the most respected career people i know, the ambassador and admiral mullen who i've worked with much more
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closely than the ambassador, i respect them. we have an obligation to look for any of the inconsistencies, and yes, i understand that in seven hours, they look back and say, we couldn't have saved those men. the question, one of the questions is, in hour one, who orders were given to begin the process? who was put on alert? who was asked? this could have gone on like tehran. this could have gone on for weeks or months. so there's a lot of those questions. all we're really asking is, why is it that the ambassador and the admiral reached a conclusion? we have their output. >> let's have the ambassador respond to that. >> you also have access to the classified testimony. >> well, actually -- >> ambassador, we've got the classified report. but we don't have any of the interviews you did. we don't have even -- we don't even have the list of everyone you interviewed.
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>> the lift of interviewed? >> i want to get to a larger picture though. excuse me, ambassador. i want to come back to this fundamental question. >> please. >> did you not pay sufficient attention to and time with the secretary of state? >> i believe we did. we had a session with the secretary. it took place very near the end of the report. it took place when we had preliminary judgments about who made the decisions, where they were made, and by whom they were reviewed. we felt that that was more than sufficient for the preponderance of evidence that we had collected to make our decisions and you know that our decisions was two of those people should be separated from their jobs. two others failed in their performance. >> the press secretary to the president jay carney said back in november, he talked about how changes were made, who made changes to these talking points prepared for congress and for ambassador rice. this is what he said back on november 28th. >> the white house and state department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of these two institutions
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were changing the word consulate to diplomatic facility, dawe consulate was inaccurate. those talking points originated from the intelligence community. they reflected the ic's best an assessments of what they thought had happened. >> we know that's not accurate. we know that in fact, the state department, victoria nuland was involved in removing from the talking points veevs warnings about security and references to a terrorist group, an extremist group being involved in the attack based on what was being reported on the ground and by intelligence. is the administration guilty of playing politics with terrorism? >> with full respect, the accountability review board was there to look at the question of security. we did not examine talking points after the fact. it was not in our -- >> i'm going to end on this point, which is about the irs and this revelation. they have apologized for this. what more would you like to see? are you satisfied with the apology?
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>> this -- >> the targeting conservative groups in an election year for tax exempt status. >> you said it all. they targeted conservatives. for tax exempt status, but the bottom line is they used key words to go after conservatives. this is something you have to institute changes to make sure it doesn't happen again. there has to be accountability for the people who did it, and quite frankly, up until a few days ago, there's got to be accountability for people who were telling lies about it being done, and lastly, to be honest, one of the most offensive parts is, my committee and jim jordan and i instigated this investigation, got the ig to do the investigation before the ig's report comes to the public or to congress as required by law. it's leaked by the irs to try to spin the output. this mea culpa is not an honest one. the honest one is in fact, let's see the ig report. let's go through it. and then let's just like the ambassador said on the 29
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changes, which we agree with, let's see what the ins stufted changes need to be to make this not happen again. >> chairman issa, ambassador pickering, thank very much. we're going to get reaction from the chair of the senate intelligence committee, democrat dianne feinstein of california. plus the alarming number of sexual assaults in the military. another big story this week. what should be done about it? the president weighed in this week. we'll hear what he said plus get perspective from two combat veterans. congressman adam kinzinger of illinois and also joining us, katy kay of the bbc and david brooks of the "new york times." we'll be right after this short break. bjorn earns unlimited rewards for his small business. take these bags to room 12 please. [ garth ] bjorn's small business earns double miles on every purchase every day. produce delivery. [ bjorn ] just put it on my spark card. [ garth ] why settle for less? ahh, oh! [ garth ] great businesses deserve unlimited rewards. here's your wake up call. [ male announcer ] get the spark business card from capital one and earn unlimited rewards. choose double miles or 2% cash back on every purchase every day.
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coming up, the political fallout of benghazi. is it going to hurt hillary clinton's presidential prospects in 2016? the roundtable is here, senator feinstein right after this. vietnam in 1972. [ all ] fort benning, georgia in 1999. [ male announcer ] usaa auto insurance is often handed down
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>> and we're back. we'll speak to our political roundtableny a moment. i want and we're back. we'll speak to our political roundtable in a moment. i want to begin with senator feinstein, democrat of california and senator, your reaction to what you've heard thus far. particularly the ins and outs on these talking points and what seems to be the central charge that is these e-mails revealed that the administration at various levels wanted to scrub the fact that there was a link to terrorism of the september 11th attack in benghazi.
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>> well, i disagree with the conclusion. we have held six separate hearings. we have interviewed every intelligence head. we have read the e-mails. we spent a considerable amount of time with david petraeus when he was director of the agency with the cia analysts involved. we will shortly be producing what i hope will be a bipartisan review. you know, what i hear being assessed is all kinds of ulterior motives, and i don't believe they existed. and i have looked through all of the intelligence proceeding. benghazi. there was no tactical investigation but there was intelligence to the effect that there had been prior attacks that, there was a dangerous area. you can say the security was inadequate. it was. this was not a consulate or an
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embassy. the therefore, it did not have marines. you can question whether it should have been there in the first place. but i don't think you can question that there was a malevolence on the part of the president, on the part of the secretary of state or anyone else. it was a very unfortunate incident that turned in to be, i think, a great and very painful learning experience. >> but when you see some of these e-mails that no doubt you already reviewed as chair of the intelligence committee, all of this was is reviewed by intelligence committee members, republicans and democrats. at the time nobody accused anybody of a cover-up. but you do see the talking points have from them removed any reference to terrorist groups being involved. can't you understand the about accusation that people were spinning this as something other than a terrorist attack? >> let me say this -- i think the talking points were wrong.
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i think the talking points should not be written by the intelligence community. i think the intelligence community should not be doing talking points for members of congress and our report will in essence say that. talking points can't be done by committee either. and these were. they were passed from one to the other to the other. and changes were made. the white house made virtually no changes. the word consulate was changed to mission and john brennan made a change in syntax of one sentence. that was it. >> but you had the state department pushing back on what the talking points were, and they were ultimately changed, and the white house was running that process, right, as an interagency process. >> well, as more became known, the talking points were changed. senator mccain said, and i happen to agree with this, that when you see a group going up with rpgs and weapons to break into one of our facilities, you can assume it's a terrorist attack. unfortunately, the word extremist was used which is not as crystal clear as terrorist. the realtime video which we have
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all seen reveals that there was virtually no defense. the militia from libya sent to guard the embassy disappeared the minute these people came down the street. these people just walked right into the facility. so that is the painful learning lesson that we have. >> well, there's also a political charge that is coursing through this. the pivotal moment of all of this back in february senator mccain was on this program, and this was the exchange with what he thought was the actual cover-up. watch this. >> and shouldn't people be held accountable for the fact that four americans died? >> for what you said there's a cover-up. a cover-up of what? i just asked you, a cover-up of what? >> of the information concerning the deaths of four brave americans. the information has not been forthcoming. you can obviously believe that it has. i know that it hasn't. why did the president for two weeks, for two weeks during the heat of a campaign, continue to
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say he didn't know the whether it was a terrorist attack or not? is it because it interfered with the line of al qaeda is decimated and everything's fine in that part of the world? maybe. we don't know. but we need the answers. >> is that criticism warranted, senator? >> well, i think some of it is. it was in the last of a little campaign. we've gone through all of this. now we're going through it again. and my concern is, when hillary clinton's name is mentioned 32 times in a hearing, that a point of the hearing is to discredit the secretary of state who has very high popularity and may well be a candidate for president. so i understand, republicans had a grievance, because this happened a month before the election, and every effort has been made to turn it into something that's diabolical. i don't see that. and if i did, i would say it, but i don't see that. >> rand paul says in iowa as he's ramping up for a presidential run, talking about
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secretary clinton, it was an inexcusable, it was a dereliction of duty, it should preclude her from holding it higher office. >> well, i think that's nonsense, and i think the american people will think it's nonsense. this is a woman who has devoted herself to the job who has traveled the earth, who has tried to bring countries and organizations and groups closer together. she's a builder, not a divider. and i think -- you know, i'm really sorry because what is happening is that the credibility is being lost when these attacks take place. first on the president, now on the secretary of state. and candidly, we have looked into this probably more than anyone in terms of time spent. and our intelligence committee will have a report, and i hope we will put some of these things to rest. >> i want to ask you about the other big issue you're working on this week, that is immigration. is there going to be an overall immigration reform bill passed in the senate?
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i don't have to tell you. you've been involved in the markup. the pushback from republicans is look, we have got to the get border security right and it's got to be tough before we get to any of the business of a citizenship pathway for those here illegally. >> well, we saw in the committee, we passed 32 amendments thursday. what we saw was a prodigious effect to say nobody could be on the pathway to a green card until the border was 100% or somehow 90% absolutely guaranteed secure. the border patrol has been doubled. there are nearly 25,000 border patrol now on the border. and intrusions have dropped dramatically. of the fence, the secretary of homeland security testified that about 300 mile -- excuse me. i think close 350 mimes of fence
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have already been built, and there's some left to do with less than 50 miles. we have air resources. you have drones. you have cameras. the border has been fortified more than any time in our history. and i think that we need to move ahead with this. i think we will move ahead. i think it's our chance. if we fail this time, i think you're not going to have another chance in the next decade. so i am very hopeful the people, the gang of eight has held together. they have -- they understand the break points. they are supporting one another. if that continues on the floor when the bill gets to the floor, i think we have a very good chance of success. >> let me widen this discussion. david brooks, as we talk again about benghazi, you know, here this morning and what's new this morning, the chairman of the house oversight committee is falling short of saying this was hillary clinton and president obama's fault.
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but he does say the administration essentially directed the intelligence community to back off what they wanted to say. >> there's an underlying narrative here which i think is actually wrong. the narrative is that the cia is the this bunch of technically pure nonpolitical people and then they produce a product which is then doctored by a bunch of political people either at state or the white house. my reading of the evidence is that a very terrible event happened at a cia -- basic lip a cia facility. they went into intense blame shifting mode trying to shift responsibility onto the state department, on to anywhere else. and the state department pushed back. they said no, it's not our fault. wipe are we releasing information we haven't released so far? the cia was super aggressive. there was pushback. out of that struggle, all reduced to moosh and politics inserted into it.
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i don't think we should necessarily say this is politics intruding on a cia pure operation. >> congressman, don't you see the muddle in all of in that it's not so clearly watergate as some republicans allege? >> look, i'm not out to try to bring anybody down. i just want the answers. i look at a couple of things. number one, who i think changed the talking points? these are questions that go to motivation. i know that ambassador rice went on every morning show and said this was a result of a youtube video. this was not a terrorist attack. it was frankly told to us in a closed door meeting in congress by hillary clinton, too. as a pilot in the military, i went to survival training and the first thing they tell you, your country, just know your country will move heaven and earth to get you if you're captures and it appears in this case the country didn't move heaven nor earth to come get them. the administration said we had seven hours and we couldn't have made it in time. to me that's irrelevant. what matters is you didn't know when the second attack was coming. why did you not pull ought owl the stops to save these four men or any future attack that could be happening?
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>> wes moore, you're also a veteran of wars in iraq and afghanistan. that is something you hear a lot in this community, in the diplomatic community, which is, why didn't they go after our guys to try to do something and was there enough contingency planning to be able to move if something like this were to occur. >> the challenge was coordination, who had the jurisdiction to send in, what was the timeline. i agree with you on the point that regardless of what the timeline was, there should have been contingency plans particularly once we heard about the level of the threat. where the challenge comes in, ip think this also comes into an idea of lesser included. where we cannot -- by trying to overstate the argument, we also undermine the argument. where we have to also understand that at its fundamental core, that investigation should happen. there needs to be more we should understand and a baseline we can understand from this issue. we can start clouding the issue by trying to put in all the other elements like trying to implicate specific individuals are responsible. like senator feinstein was talking about. that's when it becomes out and
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that's where the truth becomes muddled. >> and the beirut bombing in 1983, service members killed respectively on a landing strip there. the president taking responsibility. i was looking at the time. sam gibbons of florida saying i've only got three words. lebanon, reagan's vietnam. senator fritz, the troops in this situation borders on the criminal. sitting there hunkered down at the end of a runway waiting to the killed. on and on he goes. a tragedy that became a political issue here in benghazi somehow becomes a scandal's what is the difference between tragedy and actual scandal? >> it is the insertion of politics. and if you are a republican who feels that this is a cover-up, you feel you've been vindicated this week. the democrats feel that the republicans are trying to smear the white house with this. and i think actually for the american public, the points of whether there were 12 different versions of the talking points
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and the e-mails that were sent, that's not what concerns them or perhaps should concern them. the bigger picture here is one about missing intelligence in benghazi in the run-up to this attack, the fact that there were 40 separate attacks against foreigners in the six months before the attack against this facility. why were those not connected. why was the security not sufficient? those are the issues that should concern us. those are the issues that actually matter to american security abroad. this issue of talking points i think is becoming so intensely political, so confusing, that it's going to be missed by the american people and probably should be missed by the american people. >> before i go to break, senator feinstein, to kind of bottom line this. if there is something you would have liked to see the president or the secretary of state do differently after this broke, it would have been what? >> oh, to move faster, to say yes, this was, in fact, a terrorist act. i mean, it was so evident and --
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>> but why did they drag their heels on this? if you believe that. why did they -- >> i can't -- because i think this is a cautious administration. you see it in other respects. i respect that. but this is one instance where, you know, it was what it was. and you saw it. the minute you knew what happened, you knew it was a terrorist attack. and you knew these groups had camps all around the area. so -- >> did you think the political campaign was a factor? >> hard for me to tell because i'm not sure what impact it would have had if someone had said from the administration, yes, our mission was attacked. we believe it was some terrorist groups. we need to identify which one. i don't see what harm that would have done to the administration. >> all right. let me get to a break here. i want to come back and talk about another big issue this week. the sexual assaults in the military. what should be done about it? we have key voices around the table to address that. plus, this irs story especially
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there's absolutely no targeting. this is the kind of back and forth that happens when people apry for 0 01c-4 status.
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>> that was march last year. news this morning that he in fact that he and other senior officials at the irs knew there were conservative groups with the word patriot in their names trying to get tax exempt status put through extra regulatory hoops to get that status. you heard chairman issa talk about that. senator feinstein, were you concerned about that? >> i'm concerned about that. my understanding is the inspector general is doing a report that should be out shortly. i think we have to take a good look at it. >> there's no proof the director himself of the irs was personally aware? >> that's my understanding. somebody made the decision that they would give extra scrutiny to this particular group. and i think we have to understand why. i don't understand why. >> this is kind of lumped in this morning. "the washington post" this morning, david brooks, kind of a second term curse. you've got the benghazi investigation going now, questions about the irs. does this further poison the well in washington? >> yeah, i mean, second terms are generally hit with scandal. the obama administration you're
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not going to have monetary scandal. these people are not financially corrupt. the irs story is going to be big and confirm a lot of suspicions a lot of republicans have. you combine that with the benghazi thing and even the red line. the red line in syria, where that looks like a political thing, because he wouldn't carry through it. what the president needs is a group of people put out there the clearly above politics, senior older people show that a significant part of this administration and the core of this administration is not hyperpolitical, and that has been a problem for the administration, i think, since the get-go. >> huge story this week is the sexual assault in the military and the figures that were revealed this week katty kay, from 2010 to 2012, an increase of 35% within the military, the president very angry about it. this is men and women who are being assaulted. this gets to a core issue which is, who you report assaults to in the military and the role of a military commander to even do
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away with the verdicts or decide whether the cases are brought. >> almost as shocking as the number of cases is the fact that 92% of reported assaults in the military never actually make it to a court process. so there are two issues. one is that it's incredibly scary for young women and young men in an organization where following orders is what you are meant to do and where it is very hierarchical to go to seniors when those seniors in some cases might have been the perpetrators and say i've been the victim of assault. it's particularly hard in the military and the prosecutorial process is flawed, because it's left up to military commanders. senator gillibrand is going to propose legislation that that gets taken away from military commanders. as it is in the uk, where you have independent review. >> secretary hagel is not prepared to do that. there is still an issue of order and discipline. this is not a democracy, senator graham pointing that out, that you can't change this process that dramatically. you've been in the military. >> yeah. >> can you get real reporting if it goes up the chain of command?
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>> i don't think -- i don't think it's that difficult to change reporting. in fact, when you look at the numbers, i think it's something that needs to be looked at. this isn't just an issue about fairness and equity but recruiting and retention. in 2016, the military is going to be fully integrated. we're where going to have women will be allowed to serve in all different exam arms operations. in combat operations. we can't act like this is something that hasn't been noticed by females and males serving in the military. the military has always been ahead of society on so many issues. we integrated before society integrated. we had equal pay for men and women before society. society still doesn't have the same measure. and also you look at even basic issues of allowance of jobs and criteria. this is one issue where we're still far behind on. i think if the military cannot regard a process to sustain that, we're talking about 93% of cases that actually don't get prosecuted then we have an obligation of being able to be
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examine, investigate and then to convict people who are guilty of crimes which is what they are. >> david, i think the key is what these twos have just said. i think it has to be taken out of the command decision making. it's clear that there is too much excuse. and this has got to stop. and there has to be zero tolerance. and that has to be supported by a separate judicial process whether it's a full-court martial process or anything else, apart from the military command structure, and, you know, what's happening, too, to women all over the world, the rapes in india, what's happening in this country, the concern over the abuse of women against their will, it's got to stop. and the military ought to set the tone for a new day, because it cannot continue like this. >> congressman, as i said, you've been in the military. how do you feel about it? >> this is a tragic situation. i mean, look, you have young women that are basically
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volunteering in some cases to give their lives for our country and they put themselves in some cases in a hostile environment. so i think the military has got to be very open about saying any level officer, any level supervisor, if you hear of something, you have to report it up the chain. i can tell you as an officer, if i would have heard of anybody in my command being mistreated not only will i have reported up the chain, i would have dealt with it right there immediately. people need to be encouraged to do that, because, look, you have to have the freedom to feel right where you. >> i want to end on a note, there was a wonderful image this week far apart from some of these horrible stories that we've been following, and that was freedom tower in new york and the spire being put atop it 1,1776 feet. david brooks, what did this mean?776 feet. david brooks, what did this mean? >> finally, a little recovery. it took a long time. i've been up on the top of that thing. >> i would never go to the top of that thing. >> the building, not the top of that. >> okay. >> and you know, it took a long time. >> yeah. >> but it means a lot to the
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city just to walk around the city and look up there and see that's back up there. >> i was with president bush when he first saw that 9-14-01 and the lattice work sticking up. to see that level of recovery on a gorgeous day in new york means a lot to the country we'll take a break here. be right back. aw, shoot. i missed a payment. discover card. i missed a payment. aw, shoot. shoot! this is bad, isn't it? oh no! we're good! this is your first time missing a payment. and you've got our new card, so we don't charge you a late fee for for that. plus, we won't hike up your apr for paying late either. man, that's great!
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good sunday afternoon. i'm craig melvin, you're watching msnbc, the place for politics. we begin with the backlash from benghazi. >> how could you change talking points 12 times from what seems to be relatively right to what seems to be complete lly wrong? >> i don't think you can question that there was malevolence on the part of the president, on the part of the secretary of state, or anyone else. deadly september attack played high on the washington talk show circuits this morning and it's already becoming a hot topic for 2016. >> was it because of a protest orec